Maine A.T. Land Trust had our latest (and final of the season!) hike up the Baldpates in Grafton Notch on Saturday and as you can see from the photos, it was spectacular and almost every way. The weather, although not sunny, was warm enough and the rain held off until the evening. The fall foliage was at peak and despite the predictions of prognosticators that this year there would not be much in the way of good color (due to drought conditions), there was plenty.
The group met at the Grafton Notch parking area and hit the trail at about 9:30am. Most of the group had climbed the Baldpates at one time or another (like a “failed” attempt last year), but everybody was looking forward to climbing these lesser traveled peaks that are often overshadowed by Old Speck, just across Route 26 to the west. One of the group, Sue, is working on becoming a trip leader for the Appalachian Mountain Club and this was a practice hike of sorts for her.
We made good time to West Baldpate (3,662 feet) and headed down to the bog area between the peaks. This is one of the highlights of the hike, as there are views in all directions and the terrain is unique. After the bog, we reached the steep ledges on the final ascent to East Baldpate (3,812 feet). It took everybody a few minutes to adjust to this open, exposed terrain, but it was more exciting than scary. We reached the summit at about 1pm. There were great views in all directions and though there was a chill in the air the lack of sunshine was a welcome feature of autumn.
On the way back down, we encountered several groups going up or down, and everybody remarked at how great an experience hiking the Baldpates is. It was a great way to end the warm-weather of our Next Century Hikes program!
Stay tuned for our updated calendar for the fall and winter season! Make sure those snowshoes are operational by December.